Realtors: Sales prices slow but more homes for sale

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The glass is three-quarters full for U.S. home prices, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

The midpoint sales price for existing family homes rose in 73 percent of 172 metro areas studying by the Realtors’ group from July through September. Forty-seven metro areas, or 27 percent, recorded lower midpoint sales prices when compared to the same three months of 2013, and 125 metro areas saw prices go up.

“Home-price gains returned to more normalized levels of low-to mid-single rate of appreciation in many metro areas as inventory levels steadily increased,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the group. “Moreover there are a good number of local markets that are remarkably affordable with median prices at our under $200,000.”

Although home sales prices are rising, they continue to rise at a slower rate, with all four major regions of the country posting sales price increases at or below 5 percent. With the economy improving and the labor market firming, more home owners are putting their homes up for sale, and the additional inventory is working against price gains, the Yun suggested.

In another sign of healing in the slowly recovering housing sector, distressed sales_ which include foreclosures and sales at a loss to lenders_ amounted to 9 percent of all sales in the third quarter, the Realtors’ quarterly report said. That’s down from 14 percent in the same quarter of 2013.

“Distressed sales are becoming less prevalent in many parts of the country and will likely be in the low single-digits percentages at this time next year,” Yun said in his report.